Monday, December 31, 2007

No Guarantee's

This post is a continuation from my previous post entitled 'The Prodigal Son Returns' (if you haven't read the first post, you may want to scroll down and do that:).

As I shared in my first post, I have wrestled with God about the decision to allow my son to live with his dad in California. My main issue was/is the fact that Josh's dad is a non believer. Although Josh's dad has promised that he will take him to church, he still isn't 'living' a Christian lifestyle. His values are nowhere near in line with what God teaches us, but align more with what the world has to teach. For example, he believes that women should have the right to abort their babies if that is what they choose. That is just one of the issues, but basically he falls under the mentality of 'whatever that person feels is right for themselves'. Very democratic, very California.

When I want good, solid, biblical counsel on issues in my life, I often turn to Connie. She is our Pastor's wife, but more so...she is a dear friend. Since she has raised 3 beautiful, wise girls of her own, I value her advice immensly. When I spoke to her of my concern about letting Eddie raise Josh in a non Christian home I thought that she would definitely be on 'my side'. I was in for a little surprise.

What she told me is that even if Josh lived with me, there was no guarantee he would be a 'Christian'. I could bring him to church and youth group and he could look the part, but his walk with Christ was up to him. Only he could make the decision to have a relationship with Christ....and he didn't have to live with me to make that decision. HELLO! OK..obviously Connie was a little 'off' that day! :) Actually, I knew what she was saying was right. I am a youth leader and I am blessed to witness kids making their own decisions to follow Christ. Most of them don't come from 'Christian' homes. I also get to watch the 'Christian' kids playing the part of Christians, but not walking the walk. HOWEVER....this isn't a 'youth group' kid we were talking about. This is my son! I wasn't completely buying it. I still felt that if he was brought up in a Christian home he would stand a much better chance.

So, God being God, in all of His infinite wisdom, allowed the point to be driven home. My 16 year old daughter, who lives with me, has fallen away from God. She doesn't believe. She believes there is probably a God, but she thinks the whole thing is "stupid". She goes to church, she went to youth group, she looked the part. The 'relationship' wasn't/isn't there.

God has taught me a lot over the past 6 years, but probably one of the hardest lessons I am learning is the art of....letting go. I can picture all of your heads nodding up and down as you read this. I know, you know what I am talking about. Those two simple words are a struggle for all of us and in various different facets of our lives. We all struggle with letting go. Most likely, we always will. Just when we let go of one thing, we will find ourselves clinging to another. That is our human, sinful nature.

Yesterday I watched a plane climb upward into a dark, vast sky. That plane carried my one and only son. My heart broke as it does every time I watch him leave. My head rested against the oversized, cold window and I could see my breath appear and disappear with each sob. As I watched his plane taxi down the runway, I had never been so aware of just how out of control I am. He was alone on that flight and I had no choice, but to lay him into God's hands and trust that God would take care of him.

It was a long ride from Omaha to Red Oak last night. My heart was heavy and I just wanted to get home. Although my mom came with me, we didn't really speak. I knew she understood how I felt when she reached over and patted my arm. In that moment, I also realized that God understood how I felt. He whispered in my ear: "I know. I let my Son go, too". I thought of the sacrifice that God had made and the pain He must have felt not being able to help His Son as He hung on the cross. Suddenly, my loss seemed so small.

I spoke with Josh last night when he arrived in California. I let him know that I watched his plane take off and asked him if he saw me at the window as the plane pulled away. He said "No. I fell asleep." So, here I am crying, wondering if he is going to miss me as much as I already miss him and what is he doing? SLEEPING! Isn't that just like a boy?

Son, I pray you will always be able to sleep in peace knowing that God, and God alone, keeps you safe and sound.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve and I feel a familiar giddy-ness. Much like I did as a child and yet, different. I am not excited about the presents I will open tonight, but I am excited to watch others open their presents. Honestly, I would be happy to not receive a thing this year. After all, I have already received the best present I could ever hope for.....Jesus. The Fathers gift to the world. The gift of Love, Hope, and Salvation.

So, on this Christmas Eve I would just like to say a few things to my family...including the 'Yada-Yada Sisterhood':

Mom and Dad- I am looking so forward to spending the next couple of days in your home surrounded by the beautiful decorations and my family who I love more than anything else on this earth. Thank you for making every Christmas special! I am so grateful to God that He gave me you as my parents. I love you:)

My kiddo's- There are not words to tell you how much I love you. It is my prayer that you will understand and accept the Love that God has for each of you. I pray that you will fully understand the scope of that Love when we read about Christ's birth tonight and realize that He sent His son for YOU! Merry Christmas babies!

Aunt Kathy and Uncle Steve- What a blessing you are! I have enjoyed our hours spent gathered around your kitchen table drinking coffee, sharing giggles and tears, and talking about our Lord. I pray that you will experience His presence over the next couple of days as you and your family gather in your beautiful home. I love you!!

Deb- Christmas will seem strange without you this year. What a blessing for you to be able to spend it with all of your family in California. I pray that you just absorb all of the love and joy that comes from being with family. I can't begin to tell you what you mean to me, so I won't. I believe you already know and it would make you cry if I did. I know how you hate that. So, I will just say.....I look forward to spinach dip when you get home (hint, hint). I love you, man!

Lori- I am praying that you, Daniel, Ali, and Syd will have the most Blessed Christmas ever. You are missed dearly by all who were fortunate enough to be called 'friend' by you, but I know you are exactly where God wants you...for now:)

Susan- I know this Christmas will be a little hard for you. I will be praying that God's love penetrates deep into your heart and that you will feel His arms around you and your family. God bless you!! I am thankful He has brought you into my life. I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year.

Tanya and Jeff- You are so special to me. I pray you will enjoy this time with Teresa and your family. I pray that God will fill your house with Joy, Peace, and Love. I look forward to getting together soon.

MelMac- You're on your way home and I am so glad. Your smile can light up a room like no other. May God bless this time you have with your family. I know He has blessed us with your presence!

Alissa- I am so glad you are coming home. What an amazing young lady you are and what an amazing heart for God you have. I pray you will enjoy this time in Red Oak as much as we will enjoy having you here. I hope we can find a minute or two to share some coffee!! (OH, and if you feel like making coffee know where I live:)

Christmas Blessings to each of you!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Fun!

I just read a fun blog that a friend of mine stole from another persons blog. The blog thief (AKA: Susan:) hoped that her 'blogging buddies' would follow suit and steal it, too. So, being the good friend I am, I will join her in the thievery!

The idea is to write 12 things about Christmas that you remember or you have started as a tradition. Here are my 12:

1) There were so many presents under the tree that they would literally stick out 4 feet from the bottom of the tree.

2) My grandma's cookies and my aunt's fudge

3) Men in our family always did the dishes on Christmas day

4) My mom bought my children ornaments every year for Christmas

5) We open gifts Christmas Eve. Santa came on Christmas Day. We don't do 'Santa' anymore, but I still put out stockings for the kiddo's on Christmas Day.

6) The lady who lived next door to my grandma would always leave something for me on my grandma's porch. One year she sent Santa Claus over to my grandma's house on Christmas Eve for all of us grandkids.

7) Every year my mom buys a Christmas book for me to read with the kiddo's. Last year it was 'The Christmas Shoes'. think the song is tough, try reading the book! We read Max Lucado's 'An Angels Story' every Christmas Eve before bed. It's our favorite.

8) Bagel Bites! We cook finger foods on Christmas Eve and my eldest daughter insists there must be Bagel Bites.

9) My son comes home for Christmas

10) Watching my dad try to assemble our old artificial tree. You know, the one that required you to install each branch. My dad completing the Christmas tree, wrapping it in lights, plugging in the lights, and finding that 1 strand of the 10 strands he so carefully put on....don't work.

11) Watching my children open their gifts!

12) Our first CHRISTmas....December 2001. That was the first time I realized that while I love all of the above mentioned Christmas memories, none of them really matter. It's all about Him!

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the love of our Savior reach beyond your memories and traditions and penetrate the depths of your heart this year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Prodigal Son Returns..... maybe he's not 'prodigal', but he is home. I picked up my son, Joshua, last night from the airport. Josh lives with his dad in California during the school year and spends Christmas and Summer with us in Iowa. Talk about polar opposites. Especially this time of year when it truly is 'polar' here.

So, my baby gets off of the plane and I am watching for him. I already know I am going to have a hard time recognizing him because, well, I have spoke with him on the phone. See, he was just here in August. However, for a 14 year old boy 4 months may as well be 4 years. In other words....he no longer sounds like his sisters. He is beginning to sound like a....dare I say it.....(gulp) MAN! Here I am in the airport with my mom watching, waiting, pacing, anxious to get my arms around this boy that I love so dearly, when all of a sudden, from behind, I hear a voice. It's vaguely familiar. It's my son. He walked past me and was behind me without me seeing him. I think I shrieked slightly. Maybe it wasn't audible to people around me, but in my head it was a cry........"Where did my baby go?"

My 'baby' is 6 ft tall, weighs approximately 143 lbs, and wears a size 13 shoe! Where there used to be the chubby little face of a child, there is now a chisled outline of a young man. There is even some 'facial' hair. EEEK! I asked if it was time to start shaving and he laughed and said..."I already do mom. That's how I got it to look like this. You know if you shave it, it comes back darker and thicker." This made me chuckle as the 'facial' hair could actually be mistaken for a dirty lip.

His physical appearance is only part of the shock. What is even more amazing is how mature he is becoming. Well, in some ways. I don't know what it is about my 10 year old daughter that brings out the 5 year old in my son, but this morning I awoke to her yelling because Josh was trying to squeeze her through a narrow opening between the bed and the wall. Other than those precious little moments, he really has 'grown up' quite a bit and I can't take credit for it.

Joshua living with his dad has been a very hard struggle for many years. On one hand, I am happy his dad loves him and wants him. I am finding that many dads don't. On the other hand, I wish he would leave me alone and let me raise my son. Yeah, that's pretty, I know. Very Christian of me, eh?

When I say this has been a struggle, what I really mean is I have been wrestling with God about this issue for quite some time. I know where God wants my son......and it's not with me. The struggle has not only been with God, but about God. Josh's dad is not a believer. See why I'm wrestling? Why on His green earth would He not want Josh to live in a Christian home?

The answer becomes more clear each time I see my 'baby'. I don't have the slightest idea of how to raise a man! I did an awesome job raising my boy. He is loving, caring, sensitive, and he will make an amazing husband and father someday due, in part, to my upbringing, but he is not a 'boy' anymore. His dad is raising him to be a 'man' and....he is doing a great job.

God has been working with me on this issue for about 5 years (I'm a little slow:). He has brought some major changes, disappointments, and struggles into my life to teach me this lesson, but finally.......I get it Lord!

I am not done with this blog by any means. There is so much more, but this blog is getting entirely too long. So....I will post a kinda/sorta 'Part 2' to this over the next few days. I am anxious to share what God has been revealing to me. Right now, though.....I am going to go home to my son and wrap my arms around him. (Well, around his waist, because I can't reach his neck anymore:).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

1 Corinthians 13...With a Twist

Most people know that 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the 'Love Chapter'. It is often quoted at weddings and various occasions where 'love' is the theme, but not ususally at Christmas. Why? Isn't Christmas all about love?

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son".

Christmas started with Love when God sent His Son into this world and it was Love that kept Jesus focused on His journey to the cross. Love for the Father and love for us.

I ran across this beautifully written 'Christmas' version of 1 Corinthians 13 and wanted to share it with you:

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just a decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the tree with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on my love for Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

Author Unknown

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas' Past

It's December grandpa's birthday. He has been gone almost 20 years now and I miss him. Especially this time of year.

I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. Not the 'Christmas' that the stores celebrate, but the Christmas that we, as Christians, celebrate. I love the story of how our Savior was brought into the world to save us. Such humble beginnings for the King of Kings. I love the lights, the Christmas tree's, the season of giving to others, and last, but certainly not least, I LOVE Christmas carols. (Actually, I'm slightly a fanatic when it comes to Christmas carols. For 30-some days of the year I listen to nothing other than Christmas carols! Yeah it's sick...I know:)

This time of year always stirs memories of past Christmas'. We had a fairly large family and the door was always open to friends at my grandma and grandpa's house. People would pop in and out on Christmas Eve and the presents would just continue to grow. My grandma, mom, and aunt were excellent wrappers and each gift looked like it came from the gift wrapping department at Macy's. The children would anxiously await the time that we would hear an adult tell us that we could begin to unwrap our presents. In a frenzy that resembled sharks feeding, we would tear into the beautiful packages leaving a whirlwind of bows, paper, and boxes.

Our family is much smaller now. My grandparents have all passed away, my aunt has passed away, my uncles have moved and us grandkids are scattered throughout the United States with families of our own. Our door is still open, but very few people stop by. With all of the joy this time of year brings, there is also an ache. I miss my family. I miss my grandma's mincemeat cookies and the way she would cook as if 100 people were coming to dinner. I miss the way my grandpa, who was a very quiet man, would sit on the couch not saying much, but taking it all in. You could see his eyes sparkle and his mouth would be turned upward in a very content, joyful smile. I imagine that he was just happy to see everyone he loved gathered together. I miss opening presents from my aunt. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't about the present itself. My aunt would always try to buy you something off the wall. Something that she knew you would love, but you wouldn't really think of buying yourself. She put a lot of thought into the gifts she bought.

I am so thankful that I have learned over the years who Christmas is really about. If I didn't know Jesus, I think the memories of the people I have loved and lost would take my breath away. Occasionally, they still do. This Christmas, as I sit with my mom and dad and watch my 4 children open their gifts, I will think back to the Christmas' I had as a child. There will definitely be an ache, but the joy will far outweigh the sadness. Instead of dwelling on those who I miss, I will be thankful that God allowed me to have such amazing people in my life and such wonderful Christmas memories. I will be thankful for my children and my parents and the memories God is allowing my children to make with their grandparents. Then I will, once again, focus on Jesus....and thank God for his indescribeable gift that continues to give every day of the year.

Friday, December 7, 2007


After living in Iowa for 11 years, one would think that I would be less impressed by the snow. Actually, it's quite the opposite for me. I remain captivated from the time I see that first flake dancing in the air until the last flake hits the soft, glittery, ground. My heart races a little faster and I can feel the corners of my mouth begin to turn upward. There is a warmness that envelops me and a joy that could rival that of any child on Christmas day!

My children love the snow, too (although, they probably love it less since they are the ones who have to go out and shovel:). My youngest daughter, however, is my Snow Angel (she even has a shirt to prove it:). She absolutely adores the snow. She loves it like I do. Maybe more. When she was little, maybe around 2 or 3 years old, I would always tell her when we were supposed to get snow during the night so she would look forward to getting up in the morning.

Bright and early the next morning, without fail, I would awaken to the most beautiful sound. My baby would run into my room and exclaim "Nooooo, Mommy! It's Nooooowing!". Her eyes would twinkle with excitement and you could tell she was planning her day in her mind. She would barely be finished with breakfast before she would be putting on her snow gear so she could run outside and make snow angels. Eventually, we would have to make her come in. Her little hands and face would be bright red and sooo cold. Yet, she would fuss every time we even suggested she come in and get warm.

My 'baby', who is now 10 years old, still loves the snow. She still gets as excited as she did when she was a toddler who couldn't pronounce the word. When I came home from work yesterday I could tell she had been outside playing in the winter wonderland and for a brief moment, my mind flashed back to her as a toddler and I just thanked God for my Snow Angel.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wrapped In Giggles

One of the things I love the most is the time I spend with my children right before bed. My three daughters pile into my room and we lay on my bed and discuss different things. Sometimes we discuss serious stuff and other times, well, they are just plain goofy. Last night was one of those goofy times. While Amber, my second oldest daughter, was busy trying to discuss important stuff like school, my other two daughters were busy making faces at each other and trying not to laugh. Which...they both failed miserabley at! It doesn't take much to send Jordan, my youngest daughter, into a fit of giggles and last night she had definitely been struck by the giggle bug! Of course, once she threw back her head in laughter, Samantha and Amber couldn't help but chuckle. Even I couldn't keep straight face. As I lay there watching these three girls, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with love for them. They each bring something unique to our family and I am so proud to be their mom.

I often find myself watching my children and wondering what God has in store for their lives. Sometimes I just wish He would give me a sneak preview. You know, just a small glimpse into their futures. I'm not asking for an entire overview, but maybe just some 'scenes from next week' stuff. You know like..."Next week on All of Heather's Children" stuff. What choices will they make when they don't have me looking over their shoulder? Will they spend their lives serving our Lord or will they spend their lives serving the world? Of course, I know why He doesn't allow me a glimpse into my childrens future. As soon as I found out what their futures were going to look like, I would have to put my two cents in and I would end up making a mess that, in the end, He would have to fix. Yeah, God is wise!:)

For now, I will be content with the daily glimpses into the lives of my children. I will be filled with joy when they exhibit faith and follow our Lord no matter how hard it is. I will ache when they make decisions that are outside of God's will for their lives and I will praise God nightly as I allow my children's giggles to wrap around me like a favorite blanket.